'Sunday Night Football' Kicks Up Opening Ratings


The NFL continues to buck the trend of many TV programs: NBC's "Sunday Night Football" posted its best opening night ratings ever.

This season's first Sunday night game featuring the Dallas Cowboys-Washington Redskins took in a Nielsen preliminary 8.6 rating/20 share among 18-49 viewers -- up 15% from the Chicago Bears-Green Bay Packers contest of a year ago, which earned a 7.5 rating.

The big game bowled over remaining summer and other programming: A rerun of CBS' "Big Brother" dropped to its lowest numbers this season, at 2.1/6. CBS' "60 Minutes" also had low results -- a 1.2/4. ABC got tagged the worst, with "The Gates" sinking to a 0.7/2.

The first week of the NFL season gave Fox its usual early-evening draft. An overrun of its NFL games at 7 p.m. pushed ratings to a 8.1/24. Then its post-game show "The OT" took in a 6.1/17. This gave a rerun of "The Simpsons" some lift, pushing it up to a 2.9/8 for the 8 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. time period.



NBC's "SNF," which earned a Nielsen preliminary 16.6 household rating/26 share, comes on the heels of last Thursday's game on NBC, the "NFL Kickoff" contest, which starts the NFL season. That game, between the Minnesota Vikings-New Orleans Saints, earned a 17.7/28, the highest-viewed NFL prime-time game in 13 years.

Everything else was in reruns, all awaiting new shows to be rolled out over the next couple of weeks. (The CW debuted some of its new programs last week.)

NBC ended the night at a 6.9/27 among 18-49 viewers. Fox had a 3.8/10; CBS was at a 1.4/4; Univision, a 1.3/2; and ABC a 1.1/3.

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